For immediate release
The St. John’s Board of Trade Urges City of St. John’s to explore all feasible options possible to reduce the ballooning deficit
St. John’s, NL, September 28, 2020 – It is no secret that the City of St. John’s is facing an extraordinary deficit. Unlike provincial and federal governments, municipalities are not able to borrow to balance the budget. The City of St. John’s must either increase revenue or reduce expenses.
The St. John’s Board of Trade is urging the City not to look to its members, which are predominately small businesses, including not-for-profits, as the solution for balancing the books. “Tax increases could push businesses that are already teetering on survival over the edge,” said AnnMarie Boudreau, CEO, St. John’s Board of Trade. “Our members will be faced with making drastic decisions such as further cuts to even closing their business if they’re faced with additional costs. It would impose more financial pain on an already stressed population.”
On behalf of our members, the St. John’s Board of Trade is calling on the City of St. John’s to work at an aggressive pace to find solutions to the pending deficit. “We encourage open mindedness to any possible idea, with accelerated due diligence,” said Andrew Wadden, Chair, St. John’s Board of Trade. “This includes the possible privatization of Mile One as well as any possible partnerships with the private sector that can reduce City expenditures, while maintaining essential services.”
The St. John’s Board of Trade is not advocating for any one business in the case of privatizing Mile One, but it is critical that the facts surrounding the possible scenario are clear and understood. Our economy is feeling the brunt of the pandemic and recovery is going to be lengthy. The City of St. John’s owes it to the taxpayers and businesses, who our economy is built upon, to sincerely evaluate all ideas that can help eliminate the deficit and avoid harmful tax hikes.
“We cannot shy away from options simply because they’ve never been tried before,” said Boudreau. “We need to work together and be creative in our assessment of ideas and find new ways and possibilities for overcoming the challenges that we’re facing.”
“The City of St. John’s is able to set the terms for any transaction of a municipal asset,” said Wadden. “There is no risk that Mile One will not remain an entertainment and recreation centre because the City can determine the terms of the agreement and continue to be a partner, and a voice at the table, with respect to future events and use. Our point is, if the City of St. John’s is aware that the possibility of a sale of Mile One will result in the elimination of the annual subsidy, it should be considered as taxpayers should not be forced to pay for that.”
The St. John’s Board of Trade has always enjoyed a collaborative working relationship with the City of St. John’s, and looks forward to working with them in sharing and evaluating ideas for how to eliminate the deficit and avoid harmful tax hikes.
About the St. John’s Board of Trade
The St. John’s Board of Trade is a non-partisan, business advocacy organization. Its mission is to improve the local business climate and enhance our members’ ability to do business and be successful through advocacy and member support and services. stjohnsbot.ca